What are the Water Options in the Coalfields?

January 13, 2015 | General RCAP News
From West Virginia Public Broadcasting: While the chemical spill in Charleston left 300-thousand people without access to clean water, folks in the coalfields deal with water issues every day.  We heard from folks in McDowell communities living off dated water systems that frequently go without water. Some communities have been on boil water advisories for years.
Region One Planning and Development Council planned water and sewer projects.
Region One Planning and Development Council planned water and sewer projects.
Credit Infrastructure

Eric Combs with the Region One Planning and Development Council says there are 58 water and sewer projects expected in the near to distant future in McDowell, Wyoming, Monroe, Summers, and Mercer Counties.

“There is a great need through out the whole but it seems like there is a greater need per say in Southern West Virginia,” he said.

One re-occurring challenge is replacing dated systems left behind by coal companies. Jennifer Hause with the West Virginia Water Research Institute can vouch for the system in Gary, her hometown.  Hause says during the 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s her father maintained the water system as an employee of U.S. Steel. Around that time, the company began to pull out and close mines in the area. In this video, local historian and Wyoming County Circuit Clerk David "Bugs" Stover explains that the region has an abundance of water.

It’s a common story throughout the coalfields of West Virginia although some communities didn’t necessarily keep water operators. In neighboring Wyoming, County Clerk Mike Goode explains.

“As the coal companies moved out they abandoned those utilities and the citizens had to take over those,” Goode said.

For the rest of the story, visit WVA Public Radio.